I’m not entirely sure where and when I first heard the word or the idea of congruence. But I know where and when it was that I first listened.
I was reading Eugene Peterson, as I do every summer, and I had come to the very end of his Christ Plays in 10,000 Places.*
The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence – congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it.
What kingfishers and falling stones and shining bells do without effort requires development on our part, a formation into who we truly are, a becoming in which the means by which we live are congruent with the ends for which we live… (italics, mine)
Henceforth, congruence has been a progressive measure, a timeless goal, and an overarching theme in my life.
Am I a congruent parent? Am I the same mom at 6am as at 1pm as at 8:30pm? Am I equally emotionally expressive when good things happen as when bad things happen? Will I admit (age appropriately) my struggles and say, “I’m sorry” freely to my children?
Am I a congruent wife? Am I warm toward my spouse in person and on the phone and via text? In conversation with close friends and confidants, do I represent his strengths as tenaciously as his shortcomings; do I represent his shortcomings as humbly and honestly as his strengths? Do I communicate encouragement and support as freely as constructive feedback? Am I fiercely committed to resolve – via conflict resolution, prayer, and therapy – my discontentment, resentment, or anger toward my spouse?
Am I a congruent employee? Do I pray for my bosses and leadership? Am I as devoted to my days at work as to my days off? Am I willing to do the work assigned to me with the best of others and our organization in mind, even if it comes as a detriment to my salary, my comfort, my agenda?
Am I a congruent child? Do I lift up my parents, grandparents, and extended family in prayer? Do I initiate genuine relationship with my family as best I know how? Do I actively seek out a village (‘adoptive’ parents and grandparents and extended family) as a surrounding cloud of mentors and directors as I seek to live out the Jesus Way in my life?
May we all grow in the grace of Jesus as we learn His congruence – that He was the same kind of person with the same kind of character at all times, before all audiences, at all levels of sickness and exhaustion.
*Christ Plays is the first written (1999) of five volumes in EP’s spiritual theology series; a series which may be read in any order. And, by the way, dear reader, if the only thing you obtain from any of my writing or teaching is an introduction to the mind and heart of God through the theology of Eugene Peterson, all of my time will have been well worth it.